The Scent of Wood Smoke

Here is a poem we sometimes read at Spirit Fire. It was written by Canadian, Mary Susanne Edgar. Like Nancy Carrier, she founded a girls camp and was its long-time director.  That camp was Camp Bernard, located in Ontario. This poem does such a beautiful job conveying many of the sentiments of camp life and why it means so much for the girls who experience it.  We love it!

girls camp campfire

To An Old Camper
by Mary S. Edgar

You may think, my dear, when you grow quite old
You have left camp days behind,
But I know the scent of wood smoke
Will always call to mind
Little fires at twilight
And trails you used to find.

You may think someday you have quite grown up,
And feel so worldly wise
But suddenly from out of the past
A vision will arise
Of merry folk with brown bare knees
And laughter in their eyes.

You may live in a house built to your taste
In the nicest part of town
But someday for your old camp togs
You’d change your latest gown
And trade it for a balsam bed
Where stars all night look down.

You may find yourself grown wealthy
Have all that gold can buy.
But you’d toss aside a fortune
For days ‘neath an open sky
With sunlight and blue water
And white clouds sailing by.

For once you have been a camper
Then something has come to stay
Deep in your heart forever
Which nothing can take away,
And heaven can only be heaven
With a camp in which to play.


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  1. Avatar for Noble Nolen
    Noble Nolen
    14 years ago

    I am going to use this poem for poem in your pocket day! I think it’s the 26th or 28th of April so make sure to have a poem in your pocket!!! 😉

  2. Avatar for Diane Kinkaid Allen
    Diane Kinkaid Allen
    8 years ago

    This was my favorite poem when I was a Campfire Counselor at Camp Namanu in Sandy, Oregon. I used to read it at the close of every camp session to my 5th grade campers. I was so excited to find it again. My husband and I planning a camping trip in September — a rustic cabin in the Central Oregon dessert. Diane Kinkaid Allen